Virginia angler Caleb Newton’s June catch has now been confirmed by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as a hook-and-line world record. Newton, 27, caught a massive 17-pound, six-ounce snakehead over two months ago in Aquia Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River. The angler used a crank bait with a 15-pound line and light rod to bring the beast in. It only took Newton about a minute.
“I caught one [that weighed] 13 pounds on Saturday, and that one fought harder,” Newton told The Free Lance-Star after being told that the snakehead had been confirmed as a record.
In fact, Newton will be receiving two records from IGFA: one for the snakehead and one for taking the largest fish in his line weight class. A certificate has been sent out by IGFA’s record-keeping branch and Newton will be receiving it shortly.
“It’s signed by our president and an executive committee member, and gives basic details about the species caught, the weight and date of the catch,” said IGFA record coordinator Jack Vitek.
Newton, who works at a plumbing company, is hoping that his new found fame will translate to some commercial support.
“I’m hoping they will send me some gear and apparel. I fish in tournaments and people know my name now. I’d like to wear a Berkley jacket,” he said.
At the time of the catch Newton was fishing with friend Phil Wilcox in a tournament celebrating Wilcox’s upcoming wedding. The 36-inch-long snakehead managed to beat out the previous world record, held by a Japanese angler since 2004, by a mere two ounces. Reportedly a larger 18-pound snakehead was also caught last year in Virginia, but was not entered into the records. Snakeheads harvested by bowfishing are also not eligible to apply for a hook-and-line record.
Northern snakeheads are considered by many wildlife agencies to be an invasive species. This is not surprising, considering that the fish are highly adaptable predators and tough enough to survive for days on land. While some experts now believe that the snakehead is not as destructive as first thought, anglers are usually advised to catch and kill the fish whenever possible.